Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Seattle

The Hanging Man at the Moore Theatre

Also see David's reviews of Baby and Omnium-Gatherum

From the creatively eccentric folks at Improbable Theatre, whose last season entry, Shockheaded Peter, certainly made this scribe's ten best list for 2002, comes The Hanging Man, which makes for very suitable pre-Halloween entertainment at the unique and venerable Moore theatre in downtown Seattle.

Directed, designed and scripted by Phelim McDermott, Lee Simpson, and Julian Crouch, The Hanging Man is taken from the allegedly true tale of Edward Braff, an architect who dreams of building a great cathedral but ends up suspended between heaven and hell. Convinced that the project has gone irretrievably awry, Braff tries to hang himself among the cathedral's rafters, but Death, in the form of a small bearded woman, refuses to take him, saying that he's taken her for granted. Left hanging among the beams, ropes, pillars, and tapestries, suspended between life and death, Braff encounters a peculiar troupe of performers who tell the tale they always tell - that of the hapless hanging man, his unrealized potential, and his hopeless and hilarious struggle to earn his death. When at last Braff is able to embrace love and wants to release himself from the noose, he ironically achieves his initial goal.

The versatile Improbable Theatre acting ensemble, consisting of Lisa Hammond, Nick Haverson, Richard Katz, Catherine Marmier, Rachel Spence, Ed Woodall and Tim Preece, bring this tale to life in touching, macabre and often humorous ways. To pre-recorded original music and sound effects (credited as "Soundscape" by Darron L. West), the cast exuberantly performs some eclectic choreography by Steve Kirkham. The cathedral set, co-designed by Phi Eddols, is haunting and always surprising, exquisitely lit by lighting designer Colin Greenfell. Costume designer Steven Snell is never at a loss for comic invention in his creations.

The Hanging Man is not as zany or totally spellbinding as Shockheaded Peter, but as an overall experience it is a wholly worthwhile slice of a kind of theatre rarely attempted by any local companies. In short, get thee to the Moore this weekend!

The Hanging Man, a Seattle Theatre Group presentation of the Improbable Theatre runs through October 26 at the Moore Theatre, 1932 2nd Avenue. Special 2 for 1 promotion available offer good at The Paramount Theatre Box Office, Mon-Fri, Noon - 6:00 pm and online only at with the password: NOOSE.

- David-Edward Hughes

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